'Gonzi under pressure from Steve Mallia and Lou Bondi to press charges against me' - Dalli

Former European commissioner John Dalli claims Times editor and PBS presenter pressured Gonzi to institute proceedings against him

John Dalli
John Dalli

John Dalli today told court that former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had told him that he was under a lot of pressure from Times editor Steve Mallia and former television presenter Lou Bondi to institute proceedings against him.

Testifying in a libel case instituted by Richard Cachia Caruana against MaltaToday’s managing editor, Saviour Balzan, former European commissioner John Dalli claimed that after challenging Lawrence Gonzi for the PN leadership in 2004, he was subjected to an attack by the PN media, the Times of Malta, the Malta Independent and PBS.

The former PN minister was summoned as a witness in a defamation case filed by Richard Cachia Caruana, the former permanent representative to the EU, against Saviour Balzan, the managing editor of MaltaToday, over the latter’s claims that Cachia Caruana was behind a dirty media campaign  against PN critics of the Gonzi administration.

Dalli said that up to 2004, he was still a minister and explained that after losing the election to Gonzi and being appointed as foreign affairs minister the attacks increased.

 “I had many discussions with Gonzi. He made me resign. These attacks originated from the PN controlled media, like the Times, the Independent and PBS. I resigned because I was being attacked from all sides. I said this in a letter that I handed to the Prime Minister where I explained why I wanted to resign. In 2004, it turned out that the attacks on me centred on fraud and those who attacked me were sentenced to two years in prison,” Dalli said.

Dalli added that “unbelievably” the police did not carry out investigations as to who had actually committed the fraud, adding that in 2008, Gonzi declared that there was no proof to back up any of the statements about him.

“After the 2008 election, I was given the ministry for social services portfolio and initially, I had been given the ministry for tourism but I had refused. Gonzi then offered me the post of European Commissioner. At first I did not accept, but I was persuaded to accept after a discussion with Gonzi,” Dalli said.

He added that he had been informed that the Times editor Steve Mallia, who had called him in 2004, was being used by Richard Cachia Caruana.  

“Gonzi had told me himself, in conversation, that he was under a lot of pressure from Mallia and Lou Bondi to institute proceedings against me.”

Cachia Caruana’s lawyer Joe Zammit Maempel said that from his research, there was only one related article on the Times prior to Dalli’s resignation.

However, Dalli said there were many attacks on him and that this article was written after they got him out of the way. He claimed that Lou Bondi had boasted that his PBS programme had caused his dismissal.

He added that he could assume the connections between Bondi and Cachia Caruana because he “knew how things were done.These attacks took place before my resignation. After resigning, he claimed that I was forced to resign from parliament.”

Dalli claimed that Cachia Caruana, in an email, had attempted to persuade him to write a statement to the effect that he disagreed with the allegations levelled in his direction by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.

“The email…I have, is the one Cachia Caruana had sent me to dictate what was to be said regarding Pullicino Orlando,” Dalli said in reference to the Parliamentary vote against the former permanent representative to the EU in 2012.

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